What are you afraid of? There is a big difference between having a healthy fear of something, like spiders or snakes for example, and having a phobia about something. A phobia is an intense and often irrational fear that can physically paralyze a person when they are confronted with the object of their fear. Phobias can actually control your life and leave you unable to even leave your home.
By understanding exactly what a phobia actually is, feels like, and looks like, you will be in a much better position to overcome it. Phobias don’t have to be the controlling force in your life. With effective therapy, you will soon be well on your way to good mental health.
Is It A Phobia?
Phobias can be characterized by several symptoms that will leave no mistake about what they are. Let’s take a look at just a few healthy responses to situations and then phobic responses to the same things.
Getting upset or scared during a turbulent flight is a normal and expected response. Avoiding going to your father’s funeral because you would have to fly is a phobic response.Getting nervous when meeting new people is normal. Avoiding job interviews because you’d have to meet new people is a phobic response.Getting dizzy and queasy on a rollercoaster because of the motion is normal. Refusing to go in a lift to the 3rd floor of a building because of the height is a phobic response.Getting nervous at the sight of a big dog you’re not familiar with is normal. Avoiding the pet store or going near the park because there may be dogs is a phobic response.Some signs of a phobic response could include the following.
Shortness of Breath
Feeling dizzy or passing out
Feeling a strong desire to leave, now (known as the fight or flight response to stressful situations) Feeling detached from reality
Working Through Your Phobias
Treatment for your phobias can vary greatly; there is no such thing as a one-size-treats-all program when it comes to treating anxiety disorders. Your therapist will be able to help you identify your phobia and its sources. Once that has been accomplished, you and your therapist will work through several exercises, some of which may include the following.
Recognition of your triggers
How to fight back or even completely avoid your triggers
Working through the reasons behind your phobias
The replacement of negative thoughts and negative emotions with productive and positive thoughts and positive emotions
Beneficial breathing exercises that will help you to regain your focus when you are in the grips of a phobic episode
Facing down your phobias and learning what the appropriate responses to these situations should be
The truth is that phobias can make life incredibly difficult for the person who is living with the phobia. Personal relationships can suffer, there could be severe career consequences, and the phobic person may even become incredibly depressed with the potential for suicidal thoughts.
Working with a therapist is the best option to help you overcome your phobias for you. You do not need to live on the continual shadow of your phobia.